Is it necessary to retain a lawyer in a workers’ compensation case?
It’s not absolutely necessary, but it’s certainly advisable.
It is very common for people to start out trying to represent themselves and quickly learn that it’s too complicated, too difficult to do it by themselves. You have to take medical depositions, you have to obtain medical records, and people don’t understand the process, they don’t know how to cross examine witnesses.
It is common for people to get incorrect information from employers or adjusters, and without an attorney to talk to you won’t know that information is inaccurate. The law is also changing daily. We get new cases out every day, and it’s very complicated. So without legal guidance, it’s hard to know what your rights are, because they’re always shifting a little bit.
So it’s certainly very important to have an attorney in order to get a good result.
When is it possible for you to represent yourself?
There are some situations where cases are so straightforward that an attorney’s services aren’t necessary. In these cases, all of the following are generally true:
- No time off work was needed
- The injury was at most on the scale of a rolled ankle or a cut requiring a handful of stitches
- The affected area was not previously injured
- Your employer agrees with the details of the incident
That said, there is still no reason not to consult with a lawyer anyway. Consultations should be free, and an attorney can easily spot potential sticking points with the case that you can not. They will also be able to give you an idea about what the whole process will look like.
Why does a lawyer help for more complicated cases?
First and foremost, an attorney will know if everything you are being told is accurate. They will also know what you aren’t being told — what additional rights and options you have, in particular.
A lawyer also knows the process — what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how to get it done. Workers’ compensation cases can get complicated, and often have very stringent timeline requirements that need to be met in order to have a successful case. An attorney will make sure the process goes smoothly and correctly, without your worrying about it.
And finally, a lawyer will make sure everything is done correctly. Most importantly, this includes the collection of evidence documenting the veracity of your claim.
The advice offered above is general in nature and may not be applicable to every case. Consultation with an attorney is highly recommended. Reliance on this advice does not represent the formation of an attorney-client relationship in the absence of a fee agreement with Mr. Hillsberg.